London

London Mayor Boris Johnson begins six-day India tour

  • 25 November 2012
  • From the section London
Media captionBoris Johnson wants to promote business links between India and London

London Mayor Boris Johnson has begun a six-day tour of India to promote business links with London.

He said the UK could no longer rely on the colonial sentiments of the past as it seeks to build new business links with India.

Boris Johnson said to simply rely on India's history with the UK "simply didn't cut the mustard".

But Green Party London Assembly Member Jenny Jones said the mayor was "overreaching his role".

Image caption Mr Johnson visited India Gate in New Delhi on the first of a six-day tour of India

Mr Johnson began his tour visiting the Akshardham Hindu temple, before heading to India Gate, in Delhi.

"The objective is to build up what is a new partnership between London, the UK and India," he said.

"We can't rely on sentiment. Everybody knows this. All this stuff about links and language doesn't cut the mustard any more.

"It's all about what London has - the brands we can offer, the opportunities we can offer to Indian business."

But Green Party London Assembly member Jenny Jones said: "I'll be interested to see the cost of this when the figures come back.

"Perhaps he is slightly overreaching his role.

"This is not after all the prime minister. It's almost as if he is acting himself into the part."

'Zip line'

The Akshardham Hindu temple has links with Neasden temple, in north-west London.

"On the way in to Delhi I saw a Jaguar car driving in from the airport which had been made in Coventry and now owned by an Indian company," the mayor added.

"Imagine if a million were driving Jaguar cars - you can see where the opportunities are."

But he said he was concerned many young Indian people often decided to study in the US.

"The worry is that young Indians are already orientated towards America," he said.

"Visas is a point but it's not the only point. It's the mood music, so what I want to do is explain how welcoming London is."

Mr Johnson was greeted by monks with a garland of rose petals and the traditional kanku - with the red dot daubed on his forehead.

But a bemused Indian local mistook him for Wimbledon legend Boris Becker.

Akash Bharadia, 18, who is spending his gap year volunteering at the temple, said: "One of the locals shouted out it was Boris Becker while some people asked whether he was the King of England.

"They know it's Boris, that's the main thing," he added.

Meanwhile, a US businessman who had his photo taken with the mayor at his hotel just referred to him as "that guy on the zip line" - a reference to when Boris got stuck on a zip wire for several minutes when it stopped working at an Olympic live screen event.

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